Fermez la bouche!

by jemma margaret

All you loyal readers (and you are all loyal readers) probably know by now that I don’t often “go out” in Paris. That is not to say I spend my days holed up indoors (which is also not to say I do not spend my days holed up indoors) but rather I tend to choose home cooked meals and good night sleeps over the alternatives.

However, when hosting there are good excuses to try that lovely café I’ve heard so much about or that wine bar where everyone seems to be having so much fun.

Allegedly, when I was younger I used to really make a racket, and teachers would ask me to please use my indoor voice. This was Montessori school, a continental method that seems to have instilled an appreciation of environmental considerations seemingly lacking among the contemporary Anglo-Saxon milieu. We can attribute symptoms such as no attempt at speaking French, wearing sweatpants in public, and shouting personal grievances. In a few days of eating in public I have learned about the botox, divorces, opinions on WASPs, dietary restrictions, and upcoming appointments of my fellow patriots. I wouldn’t mind the unintentional eavesdropping if someone at least had something interesting to say.

Thus in a sea of voluminous Americans (which wash regularly over the shores of Paris), I try to pitch my voice below the common hubbub or wait for a momentary lull (which happens surprisingly little considering there is food being put into mouths). This strategy has mixed results ranging from being wholly misunderstood to maintaining a very thoughtful conversation to nothing but a quiet chewing.

Can I really be angry at my friends and neighbors for bursting their vocal chords and my eardrums. They are, theoretically, used to wide open spaces where a voice must travel far and wide to be heard. Should I feel sorry for them in their ignorance? Sadly, many Americans may never enjoy the sound of silence.

It goes like this: